What is the difference between MPL and CPL

HPL, DPL & Co .: What types of laminate floors are there?

Modern high-gloss laminate with EPL surface. Photo: HDM

Laminate is one of the most popular floor materials in living areas today. It is well known that this is a cheap alternative to real wood parquet. However, many do not know exactly what the flooring is made of. The subject is also not easy to understand because there are now many different types of laminate and manufacturers use numerous abbreviations such as HPL, CPL, DPL or EPL. An overview.

Laminate is a multi-layer product. In the case of a finished floor area, we only see the thin surface with the print motif - although wood designs were used almost exclusively in the past, whereas today, for example, natural stone, concrete or tile looks are also imitated. Underneath the visible layer is the carrier material, which consists of fiber wood panels (MDF or HDF), with a stabilizing backing made of plastic or paper on the underside. The structure with carrier plate and backing is actually the same for all types of laminate. The differences between the products available on the market mainly relate to the composition of the surface layer.


Laminate floors have been manufactured industrially since the 1980s. Initially, so-called high pressure laminate was used for this, for which the abbreviation HPL (High Pressure Laminate) has become common. HPL laminates consist of thin layers of paper that are impregnated with melamine resins. After hardening, the resins protect the paper and make it water-resistant and washable.

For the production of HPL, several layers of paper are pressed together under high pressure and at high temperatures. Over the decorative paper with the print motif, there are protective "overlay" papers, which are also impregnated with melamine resin and are of course transparent. So-called Kraft papers underneath the decor paper provide additional stability. These are also impregnated with resins. The actual HPL laminate is created by pressing the paper layers. It is only glued to the carrier plate in a second step.

HPL surfaces are very shock and pressure resistant as well as scratch and heat resistant. That is why the laminate is often used for worktops and table tops. In view of the properties mentioned, it is of course also ideal for floors. Nevertheless, the material in this area has meanwhile been largely replaced by other types of laminate. Main reason: HPL is too complex and expensive to manufacture and therefore does not fit so well with the inexpensive laminate flooring segment.

The CPL laminate is also very resilient and resistant. No wonder: It also consists of several pressed, melamine resin-impregnated paper layers. The main difference to HPL concerns the production process. The abbreviation CPL stands for "Continuous Pressure Laminate". While HPL laminate is produced as panel-shaped goods in multi-daylight presses, CPL is produced on continuously operating double belt presses in an endless process. This is faster and is therefore cheaper. CPL laminate is often offered as roll goods in thicknesses from 0.15 mm and is often used as a coating material for interior doors. On the other hand, the minimum thickness of HPL surfaces (without carrier plate) is 0.5 mm, which is significantly higher.

Market leader DPL

Laying of laminate floorboards with a classic surface made of layers of paper soaked in melamine resin. Photo: Pixabay

Although CPL can be produced more economically than HPL, this laminate also only plays a subordinate role in the floor area today. Most laminate floors are now made of so-called DPL (Direct Pressed Laminate). With this material, the surface also consists of paper soaked in melamine resin, but not as many layers of paper are used. More precisely, there is only a decorative paper and a protective overlay. Both papers are pressed directly onto the wood-based material carrier in just one operation under high pressure and high heat. This process saves material and time than the HPL and CPL production processes.

Because it is particularly inexpensive to manufacture, DPL is now the market leader in laminates for laminate floors. Although the material is not as robust and resilient as high-pressure laminate, the quality is completely sufficient for most applications in living areas. In the high-quality contract sector, on the other hand, HPL floors are more often found, unless real wood parquet is used anyway.

The so-called CML (Continuous Multilayer Laminate) also belongs to the directly coated laminate floors. The production is similar to that of DPL, only that the laminate (like CPL) is produced in a continuous process. However, CML contains additional kraft papers that increase the stability of the laminate.

Laminate floors without melamine resin

All of the laminates mentioned so far are based on papers soaked in melamine resin. This is the classic in the still young history of laminate flooring. But the development continues. In recent years, laminate floors without melamine resin have increasingly conquered the market. With some of these products, the paper layers are simply impregnated with another synthetic resin. Acrylic resin is usually used for this. This ensures a more elastic floor surface and thus reduces footfall noise. Acrylic-based laminate also feels warmer.

So-called EPL floors are also laminates that contain acrylate resin. The special feature: The impregnated decor papers are pressed with a plastic film during production and then bombarded with electrons. This special treatment ensures that the laminate is particularly hard and smooth. The high-gloss laminate floors that have become more popular in recent years usually also have EPL surfaces. EPL ("Electrobeam Pressure Laminate") is not synonymous with high gloss. Optics with dull matt gloss levels are also available.

Finally, another trend on the laminate market is directly printed floors. With the laminate PDL (Printed Direct Laminate) not only melamine resins are dispensed with, but also the conventional paper layers. Instead, the decor is printed directly on the carrier plate. The motif is then protected by varnish.

You can find more on the subject of floors in the overview

About the author Roland Grimm has been a freelance journalist based in Essen since February 2013 and regularly writes specialist articles for Building material knowledge. Before that, he was a specialist editor at the industry magazine for around six years Building materials market and also editor-in-chief and, from 2010, editor-in-chief of the trade journal building materials practice. Contact: freelance [email protected]

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